Offering a Connected Experience
According to a study by Metova, a software development company for connected technology, 86 percent of car buyers value connected technology as part of the purchase of a new car and nearly 1 in 3 car owners report having a vehicle that is able to connect directly to the internet.
"The connected car is no longer a futuristic luxury, but rather a real expectation and often a deciding factor among new car buyers," Jonathan Sasse, president, and CMO at Metova, says. "As consumers continue to incorporate connected technology into their everyday lives, it becomes critical that automobile manufacturers and dealers, both established and new, take note and provide their customers with the facilities, features, and connectivity they have become accustomed to."
This isn’t just something to which dealerships and manufacturers need to pay attention. The study also shows nearly 1 in 5 buyers said they would walk away from a new car purchase if it didn’t include the latest technology capabilities, which is something that the independent shop owners of today need to keep in mind in order to stay competitive. Consumers want technology.
“As customers become more familiar with this connected experience, the expectations fall onto a product or service they choose, too,” Jaime Solis, VP of product and strategy at Metova, says. “It is important that they really take the time to identify customer needs and desires and where the friction lies.”
In other words, not only do customers expecting this lofty technology in their vehicles, but as a part of the auto repair shop experience, too, and repair shops need to start adapting their customer service experience to compete.
Why it’s an Issue
Mike Maloney, president of Convenience Automotive in Ann Arbor, Mich., is very familiar with connected technology. He has spent 30 years working with technology, formerly working as the director of the audio and telematics strategic business unit for Ford Motor Company. He says in three to five years, this technology is going to be extremely relevant in the auto repair shop space. He says the dealerships have an advantage and are already staying ahead of the curve. Because of this, independent auto repair shops need to start offering connected services, like appointment scheduling and notifications, to beat dealership competition, Maloney says.
What the Implications are
As the study points out, customers determine whether or not they purchase a vehicle based on its technology. They will also judge an auto repair shop if they can or can’t deliver a more connected experience in their shops. For this reason, shop owners need to pay attention and deliver in order to win the customer.
Solis says Amazon is the perfect example of this, offering a massive range of products and services from millions of vendors at the click of a button. On a smaller scale, auto repair shops need to look at the potential value they could add to make the customer’s experience better. In other words, how hard are you working to remove any friction throughout the service process?
How to Put it Into Play
So, how can an independent shop provide this connected experience?
Here’s an example: back in 2018, CarServ, a cloud-based operating system for auto repair shops, partnered with Lyft, in order to simplify the repair experience and increase convenience for its customers. The partnership aimed to cut down the amount of devices needed to call the service and order a Lyft directly. Some shops are already offering Lyft or Uber—a great start to offering a connected experience. Mars Mundy, CEO of CarServ, says not only is this beneficial to the customer, it’s also beneficial to your business.
“Enabling that better customer service starts at making the workflow process simpler and easier for the user,” Mundy says.
And this is just one of the many ways to offer more convenience to your customers. In Maloney’s shops, he utilizes multiple platforms, including email and the option for customers to text the shop number. The shop uses the two platforms to send appointment reminders, customer follow-ups, and to update the customer throughout the service. The shop is also able to send pictures of the diagnosis straight to the customer’s phone, even providing a text-to-pay option.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of customers who prefer text, especially for work approvals, or to prompt the customer to call us back,” Maloney says. “It’s been most beneficial in getting customers to respond to estimates.”
Overall, Mundy says offering this technology gives customers, and even the shop, more convenience throughout the service process.
“What we’ve seen at the shop level is both the diligence of sending that communication and then meeting the flexibility,” Mundy says.